Jamie Oliver and Michelle Obama…”Eat Your Veggies”

Doing some good things, but still lacking the “clarity” that we need.

Celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver is featured in the cover story of the August 2011 Delta Sky Magazine that I read inflight earlier this week. As it states on the cover:

“The Real Food Movement. Jamie Oliver is leading the crusade to rethink the way we eat–and cook.” Then, on page 50, the article by Peter Smith is entitled “Eat Your Veggies” and leads off with:

“TV has helped the cause, but this revolution is not being televised. The crusade to get us to eat real food (that we make) is gaining traction in kitchens, cafeterias and boardrooms the world over.”

I applaud what Jamie Oliver is trying to do, and I am sure that he is helping some people eat a healthier diet — by adding more whole plants to their daily routines. But, a quick review of his website at JamieOliver.com tells me that Jamie has a recipe for any kind of animal product that you might like to cook.

On the one hand, Jamie tells us we should eat more vegetables, but he doesn’t tell us how much of them we should eat to promote vibrant health or reverse heart disease. Like Michelle Obama, he fails to tell us about the health dangers of routinely eating animal foods, and neither of them even mention that our meat and dairy laden diet is simply not sustainable for very much longer.

The Clarification Issue. The big difference between our 4Leaf message and the message of eat your veggies that you have heard your entire life from lots of well-meaning people beginning with your mother — is that we tell you exactly what you need to eat to be the healthiest that you can be. You may not choose to eat at that highest, near-optimal level, but at least you will know what it is. Our 4Leaf concept is based on the common ground body of knowledge of five prominent medical doctors in our book and the simple explanation of the optimal diet by Cornell’s Dr. T. Colin Campbell, “The closer we get to a diet of whole, plant-based foods, the better off we will be.” How simple is that?

For most of us, we have been hearing all our lives that we should be eating more fruits and vegetables, but for the past fifty years, we have been eating less and less. Why? As factory farms and fast food companies joined forces and were aided by government subsidies; they have made it possible for most consumers in the Western to afford to eat meat and dairy and every meal.

Ruth's Chris Steak and Veggies. Most Americans sadly would think of this as a very healthy meal. Percent of calories from whole plants in this meal is about 2%.

The problem is that our love affair with meat and dairy and highly processed foods has taken its toll on our health and our environment. And, the whole mess continues to get worse every year. Obviously the sage advice from our mother has not been heeded. And at best the whole plants, like a few pieces of asparagus next to a gigantic Ruth’s Chris steak, have become no more than   an ornament next to the “main course.”

Let’s face it, over the past fifty years, most people in the Western world have become accustomed to eating at least one form of animal protein at every single meal. It is usually called the main course and most of us wouldn’t even consider it a real meal if it weren’t there. Although nature intended for us to be herbivores, humankind began eating meat just as soon as he learned how to kill and cook other animals. But only recently has that activity gotten completely out of control.

Humans have only been eating those animals in great quantities during our lifetime — a mere blink of history. And it’s not just the unhealthy animal foods, the remainder of our diet is primarily comprised of highly-refined carbohydrates, along with too much fat, too much salt, too much white flour and too much added sugar. We humans are following our natural cravings in an exceedingly unnatural world.

Leveraging the simple, yet powerful concept of maximizing the percent of your calories from whole plant foods -- still in nature's package

We must clarify. We’ve proven that simply encouraging people to eat more veggies is not going to get the job done. Now, we must begin providing much needed clarity in an ever-confusing world. And we need to do it soon. In our 4Leaf Program, we have done just that — in a simple, positive, flexible and powerful manner. In a nutshell, for optimal health:

Simply maximize the percent of your daily calories from whole plant foods — with a target of 80% to achieve the 4-Leaf level. Eat all you want from a wide variety of whole fruits, veggies, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds — and keep your total percent of calories from fat below 20 percent.

While we’re not recommending the “routine” consumption of any animal foods, we’re not going to make a big deal about it if you have an occasional piece of cheese or fish with some of those “non whole plant” calories. We just recommend that you don’t make those animal food dishes a part of your normal routine. As Dr. Campbell says, “If you plan to regularly eat animal foods, you will more than likely eat way too much of them.”

Once again, kudos to Jamie Oliver, Michelle Obama and others for trying to help our children eat better. But, lets tell them and their parents exactly what they need to eat in order to promote vibrant health, prevent or reverse chronic disease and nurture our fragile environment — all at the same time. A few other posts on this topic that might be helpful:

Michelle, it’s time to tell the world about “meat & dairy.”

Lack of clarity from the likes of Dr. Andrew Weil…

New Food Guide Unveiled — Confusion reigns supreme!

“4Leaf Restaurant Challenge;” creative chefs = great taste!

J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

If you like what you see here, you may wish to join our periodic mailing list. Also, for help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page. From the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

If you’d like to order our book on Amazon,  visit our BookStore now.

—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at HealthyEatingHealthyWorld.com

PS: Occasionally an unauthorized ad may appear beneath a blog post. It is controlled by WordPress (a totally free hosting service). I do not approve or personally benefit whatsoever from any ad that might ever appear on this site. I apologize and urge you to please disregard. 

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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2 Responses to Jamie Oliver and Michelle Obama…”Eat Your Veggies”

  1. Salvatore Liggieri says:

    You write well.

    That 20% of animal food is acceptable-that bothers me. How do you measure 20% in a meal at home or at a restaurant? And what 20% of animals have to be brutalized, slaughtered, then butchered to satisfy the cannibalism in humans.

    I understand you have to cater to the distorted food habits of a sick populace but then isn’t the world corrupted by bad food? More and more people are copying America’s food habits and the glory of it all-America’s grandest contribution to all humans young and old…McDonald’s!

    Mr. Hicks, you are to be commended on trying to purify people through food-but 20%? I don’t know. Of all the plant food advocates, John McDougall, MD is still against any animal products. There should be no compromise, if animals still have to die so that people can sacrifice 20% of their health.

    And the children shall lead us…when broccoli become the hamburger of a new world.

    Good luck on your book, I hope it has a serious impact on what people eat.

    Savatore Liggieri

    The sooner humans become extinct, the sooner animals will thrive.

    • jmorrishicks says:

      Are you remembering that the 20% includes everything that is not a whole plant food – still in nature’s package? For me, that means my cocktails, bread, olive oil, tofu, chips, cookies, pasta, bread, wine, etc.

      As you know, we NEVER recommend ANY animal foods, but we recognize that for most people, they’re much more willing to try something if it is not perceived as all or nothing. After they try it, and if they’re honest with themselves, they will find that if they’re truly getting over 80% of their calories from whole plants; they will be eating 15 times more whole plant calories than the average American. And they’ll not be making ANY animal products a part of their daily routine.

      Just to clarify. There is no way that our message should be construed as to be recommending 20% of your calories from animal foods. Be well, J. Morris Hicks.

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